Grape is a woody vine that produces clusters of edible berries. Grapes are currently being grown in Kenya, especially in Naivasha and Meru. They can be eaten raw or can be used to process wine and other products such as jam and grape juice.
There are plenty of health benefits in consuming grapes for they are a rich source of Vitamins- A, C, K and minerals such as iron, copper, manganese. Grapes are widely cultivated all over the world due to the fact that they are non-climatic and can thrive in different climatic conditions but they prefer warm to hot temperatures.
Why grow Grapes?
Grapes are suitable for home gardeners and for small scale or large scale commercial production. In Kenya, grapes can be used to reduce economic and food insecurity because there is a good market within the country.
There is ready market throughout the year and new wine companies that use grapes as their main raw material are setting shop in Kenya.
Established companies such as East African breweries ltd are thinking of entering the wine market as they seek to diversify. The future of this crop is promising. A good percentage of the grape consumed in Kenya is imported and mostly sold to the high end market that pays a good price for them- a kilo goes at around 400-500 Ksh. Wine producing companies such as Kenyan wine agencies do import the grapes they use because of the good quality of imported grapes and lack of local supply.
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Grape may be a woody tracheophyte that produces clusters of edible berries. Grapes in Kenya can be eaten raw or are often accustomed into wine and different merchandise like jam and fruit crush.
There are many health advantages in overwhelming grapes for they’re a fashionable supply of Vitamins- A, C, K and minerals like iron, copper, manganese. Grapes are wide cultivated everywhere in the world thanks to the very fact that they’re non-climatic and may thrive in several climates however they like deal hot temperatures. Grapes are appropriate for home gardeners and for small scale or large scale for industrial production.
Grapes in kenya are often accustomed to produce thousands of jobs and uncountable shillings in financial gain because there’s a decent market inside the country. There’s a ready market throughout the year and new wine firms that use grapes as their main raw material are setting search in Kenya. Established firms like East African breweries ltd are thinking of getting into the wine market as they look for diversify. The long run of this crop is promising.
A good proportion of the grapes consumed in Kenya is foreign and principally oversubscribed to the high market that pays a decent worth for them- a Kg goes at around 400-500 Ksh. Wine manufacturing firms like Kenyan wine agencies do import the grapes they use thanks to the great quality of foreign grapes and lack of kenyan provision.
Any company prefers obtaining their core raw materials from inside and are solely forced to import if they need no different alternative. This greatly will increase the value of production and deny such firms a competitive advantage. Several businesses are responsive to this and have developed their own grapevine orchards however the grape created remains meagre.
Grapes in Kenya remains in its formative stage despite the very fact that there are grapevine orchards in several parts of Kenya that are quite twenty years old. This suggests that there’s a good chance for additional farmers and residential gardeners to grow up this crop. Farmers will go an additional mile and establish wine creating house industries which will improve the economic outlook of their neighborhood.
There is a lot to be done to make sure farmers well trained on grape cultivation and worth addition to ensure top quality turn out which will rival foreign grapes and wine. This is often exactly the aim of Oxfarm Organic.
Basic Requirements of Grapes in Kenya
Grapes in Kenya prefers deep and well-drained soil and may grow in any soil kind. They are propagated through seeds or through seedlings. There are differing kinds of grapes each having its own characteristic, blessings and drawbacks. Prospective massive scale farmers ought to visit wineries and inquire on the kinds of grapes they may have an interest to get before clasp real cultivators because demand will disagree by selection. Home growers ought to sample the various varieties; they’ll be planted on the fence within the homestead and trained well to hide the fruits once it matures.
Growing grapes in Kenya isn’t tough. However, for you to achieve success in grapes farming, you would like correct info. Here at Oxfarm Organic Ltd we will provide you with careful and correct info on what you would like to try and do to achieve success in grape farming in Kenya.
From being used in dishing out sinful desserts and refreshing fruit bowls to being renowned as the primary ingredient in the wine making process, it is not without reason that grapes are known as the queen of fruits. Classified under the family of berries, grapes come in different varieties as well as colours – green, red, blue, purple and black. While majority of the production of grapes in the world are used by the wine making industry, the remaining lot is consumed as fruits and a small portion is used in making dried fruits.
Tracing its roots, it is said that grapes were first domestically cultivated in the Middle East, where it soon became popular when the city of Shiraz started using it to make wine. Eventually, other countries also started growing it and using it in the wine making process.
Grapes are easily available in the markets throughout the year. The vine containing the cluster of berries are not only pretty to look at and delicious with its sweet and tasty taste, but are loaded with essential nutrients that work for the well-being of the body.
Researchers and many studies have found that including grapes in one’s diet can be good for health as it has numerous health benefiting properties –
1. Loaded with Antioxidants
Grapes are a powerhouse of antioxidants – they contain a wide range of phytonutrients right from carotenoids to polyphenols. Studies have revealed that these phytonutrients help in preventing certain kinds of cancers and help in maintaining heart health. Among polyphenols, resveratrol is known for its miraculous properties such as inhibiting the formation of free radicals that could cause cancer and dilating blood vessels to ease blood flow and lower blood pressure. Point to note: The antioxidant content is the highest in the seeds and the skin. So, do make use of them.
2. Prevents Skin Problems
It is found that resveratrol prevents signs of ageing and other skin problems. According to a study conducted by the team at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), resveratrol, when combined with a common acne medication benzoyl peroxide, fights the acne causing bacteria.
3. High Source of Potassium
The nutritional breakup of grapes reveals that per 100 grams of the fruit contains 191 mg of potassium. High intake of potassium and lowering sodium content can help your body in numerous ways. Potassium also counteracts excess sodium. A low-sodium-high-potassium diet has proven beneficial for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart health in most cases. A bloated stomach can invite many health-related problems. Cutting down on salt intake and focusing on potassium-rich fiber can help in getting a flat stomach.
Good for the Eyes
According to a study done by University of Miami, Florida, grapes promote eye health from signaling changes at the cellular level to directly countering oxidative stress. Including grapes in the diet results in lower levels of inflammatory proteins and higher amounts of protective proteins in the retinas, which is the part of the eye that contains the cells that respond to light, known as photoreceptors.5. Boost Brain Power
Certain studies have found that resveratrol helps in increasing blood flow to the brain, thereby it could help speed up mental responses and prove to be beneficial for those suffering from brain related ailments like Alzheimer’s. A study done by the University of Switzerland also found that resveratrol can help remove plaques and free radicals, which affect the brain.6. Good for the Knees
A study done by Texas Woman’s University has established that daily intake of grapes can help get relief from knee pain, especially the ones triggered due to symptomatic osteoarthritis. Grapes are high on antioxidants, most important and beneficial one being polyphenols, which help in improving the flexibility and mobility of joints.
7. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
It has been found that grapes contain certain enzymes which bring about anti-inflammatory effect in our body. As such it brings about relief to the arteries, promotes heart health and helps in other repair functions of the body.
How to Include Grapes in Your Diet
Besides all the health benefits, grapes are also loaded with vitamins and essential minerals such as Vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C and D, calcium, iron and magnesium. However, one shouldn’t overload on grapes as they also contain sugar. It is said that berries should be included at least 3-4 days in a person’s weekly diet plan. And one should always consume a mix of fruits for better benefits. Although if you are consuming only grapes alone, then the serving per day could be 2-3 cups, considering each cup contains about 15-20 grapes.
The juicy flesh and the sweet and tasty flavor make this fruit an ideal ingredient to cook with. Enjoy them whole by adding them to fruit bowls and summer salads. Try and get your hands on the different colored grapes (blue and red) to add some drama to your dish. Team them with pearl barley, lettuce, chopped cucumber, capsicum – choices are aplenty!
Coming to baking, you can use them to make berry tarts and clafoutis, top them on pavlovas or pannacottas, roast them along with chicken, or make tea cakes. You could also use them to make sweet and spicy chutneys, compotes and sauces; shake up some refreshing cocktails; or even use them to make sorbets.
As you approach Naivasha town from Nakuru, a canopy of eucalyptus trees line both sides of the busy highway, forming a cool shade that has defied the scorching sun that welcomes you to this dusty town.
And just at the end of the canopy, you will be welcomed by a sign post that leads us to a green metal gate that is reinforced with an electric fence as the guard ushers us into the expansive farm. Venter, a South African national and a horticulturist, is the general manager of the 2,500-hectare farm that brews wine on Kenyan soil.
According to Venter, the sugar levels must be between 23 and 25 per cent for the grapes to produce the sweet commercial wine produced at their Rift Valley winery. Venter argues that what makes them produce quality wine is because they grow their fruits near the equator.
SUGAR LEVEL MUST BE CONTROLLED
To get the required sugar levels, Venter, who has been the farm manager for the last two years, says that the water consumption must be controlled. According to Seed of Gold Journalist, “We are situated near the equator and since Kenya has no winter season which is used as dormancy stage for the grapes to rest and grow, then water must strictly be controlled to avoid an overgrowth of grapes,” explains Venter.
“Why should Kenya be proud of stocking wine brands from other countries while it enjoys volcanic soils, cool nights and warm days which combine to ensure slow maturation of grapes that allow us to produce fulsome wines of a unique character?” poses the 41-year-old.
Morendat Farm, which is part of the Kenya Nut Company, is the producer of the Leleshwa brand wines. The farm produces 150,000 bottles of wine annually but has plans to do a million as time goes by, according to Venter. On the farm, they use machines to remove all the weeds and when planting the seedlings, they always make sure the rows run from North to South to avoid the plants having direct contact with the sun.
He said the seedling holes must be half a metre deep and the roots must sharply point to the centre of the hole to make sure they grow upright. The distance from one seedling to another must be 1.5m while the rows should be 2.7m apart. They are then watered using a computerized drip irrigation system that makes sure each plant consumes at least two liters of water per hour twice a week.
Urea is also applied using the drip irrigation system. This is supplemented with compost manure from the more than 3,000 beef bulls for which Morendat Farm is also famed for. After watering, the ground around the grafted seedlings is covered with a polythene paper to ensure there is little evaporation and to suppress weeds.
Besides South Africa, the farm also imports seedlings from Israel. After the third month, the plants are ringed with a wire mesh to keep off birds which can decimate acres if not checked.
They normally plant between June and July and they are ready for harvest after three years. They like harvesting at the end of January or early February because that is the warmest season of the year which is crucial for better sugar levels. The vines, once planted, can stay in the farm for up to 30 years before they are uprooted and fresh seedlings are planted.
Their current vines they are harvesting were planted in 1995 and in the next 10 years, they shall replace them with fresh vines as they will have reached their optimum.One hectare under grapes has between 2,000 and 3,000 vines and a good harvest yields between 10 to 15 tonnes of grapes.
Currently, the farm has 12 hectares of mature grapes and another 12 has young vines which are supposed to produce fruits in the next two years. Their target according to Venter is to plant another 36 hectares to cope with the increasing demand of their wines in the shops and hotels. Venter trained as a horticulturist at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Venter said that they have invested in irrigation with equipment imported from South Africa because water is the heart of any grape farming. The farm also has a reservoir which is used as a backup whenever there is a sign of water levels going down.
Ventor told the journalist that he has a soft spot for horticulture as he comes from a farming family. His parents, brothers, uncles are all farmers, says the father of two boys and two girls, who has been farming for the last 25 years.
Although he is reluctant to disclose how much the farm is making, he was quick to point out that there is good money in grape farming. However, one of the major challenges is the downy mildew disease and weevils which can be devastating if not managed.
Dr Lusike Wasilwa, the Assistant Director in-charge of Horticulture and Industrial crops at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), says a number of diseases which attack the grapes can be contained by keeping the field clean. He says that you should not let leaves and uprooted weeds lie idle on the farm as they are alternative hosts for pests.
According to Dr Wasilwa, the best soils for grapes are loam and volcanic but clay soil is also appropriate so long as it has enough manure. The crops should be grown in areas with soils that do not retain a lot of water. One should also ensure they grow the correct variety. The berries flourish in temperatures ranging from 0 degrees Celsius up to 40 degrees but are best harvested during hot season.
(This Article was first published on the Saturday Nation, Seed of Gold, courtesy of Francis Mureithi)
Grapes seedlings are available at our nurseries. For more Information kindly visit our offices or contact us.
Grapesare often ignored in home gardens, and yet are one of the most widely produced fruit in the world—as well as beautifully ornamental plants. We have plenty of tips for growing grapes in your own backyard.
Make sure you purchase grape vines from Oxfarm. Vigorous, 1-year-old plants are best. Smaller, sometimes weaker, 1-year-old plants are often held over by the nursery to grow another year and are then sold as 2-year-old stock.
Grape farming has the potential to create employment and wealth among Kenyan farmers’ especially young farmers who are ready to try something new. Grapes’ growing is still in its formative stage even though there are grapevine orchards in different parts of Kenya that are more than 20 years old. More farmers and home gardeners should be encouraged to embrace this crop. Farmers can go an extra mile and establish wine making cottage industries that will improve the economic outlook of their locality. There is a lot to be done to ensure farmers are well trained on grape cultivation and value addition to guarantee high quality produce that will rival imported grapes and wine.
The crop is a woody perennial vine having the ability, to live beyond 500 years. There are many grape varieties; they include, French grapes also known as Vitis vinifera, American grapes- vitis labrusa and Mediterranean/ Muscatine grapes. The most widespread grapes species is Vitis vinifera; a native of Europe grown on the world’s most land acreage.
The crop prefers warm to hot temperatures; during fruiting, the weather must be sunny and dry. Warm environmental temperatures during fruit ripening, is important in increasing the sugar content of berries while reducing their acidity. This explains why grapes grown under irrigation in hot deserts or semi deserts are sweeter than those from cold humid areas. The crop can grow in any soil, from sandy to heavy clays but the soil should be deep and well drained. Where the rainfall is scant, supplement it with an irrigation of 500 mm of water during the cropping season. In Kenya, the cropping season is September to March. Irrigation should be withheld after the long rains to force the crop to go dormant. In August to September, fruit buds form thus it is important to keep the plant healthy and well manured.
Plant dormant, bare-root grape vines in the early spring.
Construct a trellis or arbor before planting. Grape vines will need to be trained to some sort of support to grow upward. This will also cut the risk of disease.
Most grape varieties are self-fertile. To be sure, ask when you are buying vines if you will need more than one plant for pollination.
Before planting grapevines, soak their roots in water for two or three hours.
Select a site with full sun. If you don’t have a spot with full sun, make sure it at least gets morning sun. A small amount of afternoon shade won’t hurt. Your soil needs to be deep, well-drained, and loose. You also need good air circulation.
Space vines 6 to 10 feet apart (16 feet for muscadines).
For each vine, dig 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Fill with 4 inches of topsoil. Trim off broken roots and set the vine into the hole slightly deeper than it grew in the nursery.
Cover the roots with 6 inches of soil and tamp down. Fill with the remaining soil, but don’t tamp this down.
Prune the top back to two or three buds at planting time.
In the first couple of years, the vine should not be allowed to produce fruit. It needs to strengthen its root system before it can support the extra weight of fruit.
Pruning is important. Not only would vines run rampant without control, but canes will only produce fruit once. Prune annually when vines are dormant, in March or April. This is before the buds start to swell, but when winter damage is apparent.
Don’t be afraid to remove at least 90 percent of the previous season’s growth. This will ensure a higher quality product. Remember, the more you prune, the more grapes you will have.
In the first year, cut back all buds except for 2 or 3. Then, select a couple of strong canes and cut back the rest. Make sure the remaining canes are fastened to the support.
In the second year, prune back all canes. Leave a couple of buds on each of the arms. Remove flower clusters as they form.
Do not fertilize in the first year unless you have problem soil. Fertilize lightly in the second year of growth.
Use mulch to keep an even amount of moisture around the vines.
A mesh net is useful in keeping birds away from budding fruit.
If grapes aren’t ripening, pinch back some of the foliage to let in more sunlight.
Grapes will not continue ripening once picked from the vine. Test a few to see if they are to your liking before harvesting, usually in late summer or early fall.
Grapes are ripe and ready to harvest when they are rich in color, juicy, full-flavored, easily crushed but not shriveled, and plump. They should be tightly attached to the stems. Sample different grapes from different clusters, and the taste should be between sweet and tart. Check our ripeness guide for more tips on color.